Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming
For a small town in the Adirondacks, there is a whole lot of crime going on.
Here it is…the much awaited 8th installment of the Rev. Clare Fergusson and Chief Russ Van Alstyne mystery series. I have been a huge fan of the author and the series for several years, and was delighted to receive an advanced reader copy to review for this blog.
Through the Evil Days opens with Clare, 5 months pregnant, and Russ preparing to leave for their honeymoon at a remote and rustic cabin. Before heading home to finish packing, Clare learns that her church is reconsidering her position due to her pregnancy, and Russ finds out that his department may be closed and their responsibilities taken over by the State Police. Neither wants to worry the other, so they keep these possible changes to themselves. Add to this a late night fire that burns down a home and takes the lives of the couple who live there. Their foster child is spared, but added to the missing persons list. Because she has had a transplant, the police need to find her quickly to give her medicine. The child’s parents will factor into the story, as will the love life and police skills of Hadley and Kevin, two other Millers Kill police officers. Just to make things interesting, there is an ice storm on its way. You will want a fire in the wood stove and a blanket on your lap during the ice storm portion of the book. The author is definitely tapping into personal experience, and as a life long Mainer who has weathered my share of ice storms, I loved the very accurate descriptions and the plot twists the Adirondack winter storm makes possible.
What I like: the characters. They are mostly likeable in a way that makes you pull for them, yet there is always a character flaw that gets them into trouble. Some of the secondary characters get a little more page time here, perhaps to lay a foundation for their roles in future books. While I was curious about the direction of the other storylines, I missed more focus on Clare and Russ. Regardless of the plot twists, I read to find out what is next in their lives. And there are plot twists. There is layer upon layer of plot-sometimes a lot to keep track of, and sometimes a little hard to believe when added all together, but that keeps things moving, and this is fiction. A plus for the beefed up storylines: Spencer-Fleming draws some attention to some challenging issues–the mental health of military personnel when they come home from war for example.
I was quickly drawn into the story and I bet you will be too. Through the Evil Days is a suspenseful offering from a talented Maine writer. Curl up on a crisp fall afternoon and enjoy!
Through the Evil Days comes out November 5th. The Falmouth Memorial Library has pre-ordered a copy.